ARTIST Nima Veiseh’s story is a remarkable one.
Nearly twenty years ago, Veiseh developed hyperthymesia, which is a rare condition that allows people to remember almost all the details of their lives. His photographic memory serves as the inspiration for his art, as seen in “Superscapes: A Retrospective on Past, Present and Future.”
The intriguing show is up at HAZA Gallery through Sept. 1. We caught up with Veiseh last week.
How long have you been working on this particular body of work for this show?
Superscapes is a body of work that is ten years in the making. The decade-long retrospective is a unique journey from when I become self-aware about my unique perspective on the world, and how I could use that to translate moments of life and memory into beauty.
The fact is, Superscapes is the first of its kind in the history of art -- never before has someone known with hyperthymestic ability tried to create a timeline with paint.
Tell me about living with hyperthymesia. What’s it like? How does it affect the way you make art?
Living with hyperthymesia has been a real journey, most of it episodes in courage, because there are only about 50 of us in the world, which means you don’t have anyone really to ask for help. I appear to be the only professional painter, and I use my ability to dissect memories and moments in time into layers and I can delicately recombine on canvas as living sculptures, in a style that only my mind will allow.
I’ve had hyperthymesia since December 15, 2000, when it was originally triggered. Everyone appears to have a different trigger, but mine happened to be the day I met my first girlfriend, so I guess we can say that love is my original inspiration. I use my ability to translate other moments of love and memory into immortal artifacts on canvas that encompass the human condition.
How did you get connected with Christina Zanetti and HAZA? Had you shown in Savannah previous to this show?
I started my art career while living in New York City, and I am grateful to a wonderful, kind patron of my work who really believed in the universal appeal of it. It was that patron from NYC that connected Christina and I to see how we can bring a new life to the Southern art market. This is my first show in Savannah and its success would not be possible without her vision and courage. Christina is a rare combination of business mind with an artist’s heart. She trained at SCAD, which gives her unique empathy as a gallerist, and I for one notice and appreciate the difference that makes.
I noticed one of your pieces was at Art Basel. What was that experience like?
Art Basel is as humbling as it is incredible. It is like being in the Smithsonian, but there are price tags on the wall. You can feel the reverence for the artists that come before you, but at the same time, it is a bizarre feeling to have a painting on the wall, showcased only 200 feet away from a Picasso. But the beautiful thing about Art Basel is that you can learn from anyone and everything, inspiration spills from everywhere, and the sources for ideas in my own work feel endless.